This time of year high school seniors are well into the college application process. And underclassmen are feeling the pressure to build good resumes in preparation for their turn through this process. After reading the article in Monday’s, November 9, Washington Post, “Hey, colleges: Care about my grades, not my after school activities” by Audrey Rappaport, I felt compelled to address this issue in this week’s blog.
Poor Amy and her family have struggled to balance their schedules and finances to support her extra curricular activities in the hopes of proving her to be a well-rounded applicant for the colleges of her choice. I’m sorry to inform them, they may have struggled unnecessarily.
While commitment to after and outside of school interests are tools to revealing a full profile of the applicant, these activities need to be well selected. Note, colleges look to form well-rounded student bodies, not such well-rounded individual students who show no area of direct interest or excellence. Colleges are looking for focused students—those that have built a package proving their interest in a particular area.
According to the author of Getting Accepted: What Colleges Look For in Applicants, “There is a growing preference, especially at the most selective schools, for high achievers who are also “angular” or “focused” candidates. These successful students typically possess a special activity or unusual characteristic that sets them apart from other applicants.”
Students interested in pursuing a degree in business need not be playing soccer and participating in expensive robotics clubs unless they are looking to pursue an education in technological business on a soccer scholarship.
You want to be a teacher? Volunteer to tutor needy students, help young children learn to read, start a tutoring support club in your own school. Want to go into business? Show your interest by working in a local business, build a little business of your own, run the school store. Considering a legal career? Get on the school governance committee, join the debate team, volunteer at legal aid even if you’re just handing out forms.
By now you get the picture. It’s not how much you do, but the focus of your participation. “Depth, not breadth, of experience is most important as most colleges now prefer to see fewer activities that really interest you and where you are involved in a significant way. Evidence of passion, leadership, initiative, commitment and making a real difference is critical.”
US News & World Report stresses the importance of doing your research homework before beginning the college application process. Thoroughly investigate the schools of potential interest. Know what they offer you and what you can offer them. While the Common Application may be the easiest route though this arduous process, it may not be the best way to stress what makes you the best fit for the school of your choice. Colleges pride themselves on their selective process. Showing your desire and fit into their community is essential.
Research and plan ahead so you can prepare the best you to offer when applying to colleges.
Best of luck.
Please send me your comments, questions and suggestions of topics you’d like addressed in future blogs.